IT COULD BE WORSE-R

[GRRRR] …… R

It was one of those mornings, when life was just too…too…too

Everything about the situation – sweltering humidity, rain pelting the sidewalks, platform overcrowded with tourists and suitcases – was approaching critical mass.

I retreated into into the escapist fantasy movie of my own making that was screening inside my head. Nothing Else Matters by Metallica in the Airpods provided the soundtrack. I was the star. I was in every frame of the movie. Numero Uno in the credit block. Nothing could touch me.

Wallowing in the unreality of my cerebral blockbuster, I arrived at the station and found the F train packed to capacity.

So I got on the R. The plodding clunker of traindom. Time-worn relic on wheels. Purveyor of drab.

It smelled. It overwhelmed. With a decor that flashed back to the golden age of knotty pine.

The lighting strains the eyes. It’s dim. The-unfinished-side-of-the-basement-where-the-oil-burner-dwells dim.

A local train, it stops at every deserted station on the line before its inevitable stall in the tunnel under the East River. And when the R comes to a stop, it lists to one side.

It was at that point the movie inside my head flickered and unraveled from the reel.

Insinuating itself into my brain was that sinister stealth, VERTIGO, which was triggered by the off-kilter car.

Visual signals were transmitting alarms to my brain vis a vis my body’s position in relation to the slanted floor. It was reacting to an acute attack of disequilibrium.

I took deep breaths. I looked through the window into the dark tunnel, over a murky sea of sludge, hoping for a distant horizon on which to fix my gaze.

Why couldn’t the train just get going?

I rotated myself to the right so my body would tilt from front to back instead of side to side. It helped a little, but not enough.

Please don’t let me barf. Barfing in a crowded subway. Is there anything worse?

[Full disclosure: I once barfed on the #7 train. Discretely into a brown paper lunch bag I luckily had on hand. It was at night. I was alone. The train was mostly empty.

It happened after one too many margaritas during a girls’ night out many years ago. Not only did I barf, but I missed my stop and wound up at Shea Stadium. Which was shuttered, emptied of Mets and dark.]

Roused out of its temporary hibernation, the beast that is the R suddenly lurched forward. The car quickly righted itself. Until we pulled into Lexington Ave. and 59th St. I stared at the ceiling until the wave of nausea had ebbed.

When I got to the office and touched down in the CUBE, I dropped into my swivel chair and lowered my head between my legs.

The CUBE extended me an inflexible, right-angled, rigid embrace. Its attendant padded walls cushioned the severity of the non-hug, and assured me it would never do anything to make me vomit.

Good to know.

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